New bill to make Putin untouchable for life

2 weeks ago
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Russian MPs started discussing the bill “On guarantees to the President of the Russian Federation who has terminated his powers.” The bill was submitted to the State Duma for consideration in early November.

What the new bill is about

The bill was authored by the head of the Federation Council committee on constitutional legislation and state construction, Andrei Klishas, and the head of the State Duma committee on state construction and legislation, Pavel Krasheninnikov.

The explanatory note to the bill notes that in accordance with the Constitution of Russia, the president can be removed from office and deprived of immunity only pursuant to charges of high treason or another serious crime. Such charges will have to be brought down on the president by the State Duma (the Parliament of Russia), and the State Duma and the Federation Council will have to make relevant decisions based on conclusions of both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.

Both the decision of the State Duma to bring charges against the president and the decision of the Federation Council to deprive the former head of state of immunity must be adopted by two-thirds of the votes of the total number of senators and deputies of the lower house of the parliament. In addition, such decisions have to be initiated from at least one-third of MPs.

According to the current legislation, the procedure for depriving the head of state of immunity can be initiated by the chairperson of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, who can send a relevant submission to the State Duma.

The bill under discussion stipulates that the former head of state will not be brought to criminal or administrative responsibility, nor will he be detained, arrested, searched or interrogated. The difference with the current legislation lies in the fact that such restrictions currently apply only to acts committed during presidency, not afterwards.

No warranties for Mikhail Gorbachev

During the discussion of the bill, MPs discussed whether the guarantees of immunity in question may extend to former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev. As it follows from the answer of one of the authors of the bill, such guarantees are not provided.

“I would like to draw your attention to the name of the bill – “On guarantees to the President of the Russian Federation who has terminated his powers.” Consequently, the answer is no, they do not apply,” Krasheninnikov said.

However, the interest of whether the new bill applies to the former president of the USSR or not does not mean that anyone intends to bring Mikhail Gorbachev to responsibility for anything.

The law on guarantees of immunity to the ex-president is linked to the package of amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which was adopted in the summer of 2020. According to Kremlin’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov, similar guarantees are provided to former leaders in other countries. Therefore, there are no innovations whatsoever in connection with the discussion of the relevant law in Russia.

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